Business Travel is Newly Back

Airlines have fewer gaps due to Bleisure & Co, rental cars are scarce, hotels are full. Business travel has returned sooner than expected and is already different than before, as an expert talk just remarked.” Sylvie Konzack

“Business has not only come back earlier than we expected, but stronger than before,” said Thorsten Lettnin of United Airlines in the expert talk held by SAP Concur in Frankfurt at the end of November 2022. United Airlines alone flew 22 per cent more this year than in 2019. “That’s very surprising to us,” said the director sales cont. Europe, India & West Africa. The airline had not grounded any aircraft during the pandemic and was therefore able to use all of its planes.

At the same time, Thorsten Lettnin noted the trend that there are no longer distinctive high and low seasons in flight bookings. “We no longer see any booking gaps – neither in the week-to-weekend ratio nor in previously weak seasons such as January.” Especially in the American region, where his airline is mainly active, New Work with a lot of hybrid working is now normal, he says. “That’s why business and leisure travel are mixing more and more. We think that’s great,” he concludes.

The situation is similar for rental car providers in terms of demand. In combination with delivery problems in the automotive industry, this led to a supply that was often too tight this year. “Availability and plannability have become a ride on the rodeo for us in 2022,” says Wolfgang Neumann, Managing Director of Europcar Mobility Group Germany. In 2023, prices in his sector will therefore remain high, he estimates.

The hotel sector also has to pass on certain costs, among other things due to increased energy and food costs, reported Carmen Dücker, Managing Director of BWH Hotel Group Central Europe. But of course, this will not happen on a 1:1 basis.

SAP Talk: Business Recovery Process, left side: Thorsten Lettnin (United Airlines), Christoph Carnier (VDR, Merck), Carmen Dücker (BWH Hotel Group), Bernd Schulz (SAP Concur, Moderator), Wolfgang Neumann (Europcar), Lutz Neuert (BCD Travel)

Appetite for service has increased

“The high demand with increased prices should come as no surprise to all those involved in business travel,” warned Christoph Carnier, President of the business travel association VDR and Director Travel, Fleet & Events at the pharmaceutical company Merck. But the question is how fairly and in partnership we deal with each other and show understanding for the price increases after two years of pandemic-related business downtime. In addition, it would now be urgent to bring the issue of sustainability more to the fore.

Lutz Nauert, SVP Global Programme Management of the business travel management company BCD Travel, saw generally positive movements here: “More and more companies are interested in long-term partnerships and appreciate the service added value because business travel has become so much more complex and uncertain.”

Carmen Dücker noted at the same time that the appetite for service has increased. This can be seen, among other things, in the digital guest journey, which few hotel guests would use at the moment. Rather, they are currently looking for more contact with the hotel staff, want to have a lot explained to them and simply be looked after and cared for.

Sylvie Konzack …

is a little surprised at how quickly the new work has changed business and bleisure travel. But the current crises will certainly bring more surprises and changes, she believes.

Photos: ©, Konzack